Having been born in Stockholm, Sweden, Gustaf Skarsgård was especially excited to wind up as one of History’s Vikings, playing the enigmatic Floki.
“I’ve always been interested in the Vikings — that’s like part of my own history,” the actor shares with TVLine. “But having said that, there is a lot that I have learned through the show that I didn’t [learn in school]. About cultural things, rituals, how advanced they were with boat building, and what a highly civilized, in their own way, society they had.”
Amongst Vikings’ more traditionally rough-and-tumble warriors, Floki is “kind of an odd bird,” Skarsgård acknowledges — thus affording his portrayer opportunity to conjure a colorful, vivid character. Assaying that which he has brought to the role, the actor says, “When you accept a part like this, the first couple of scripts represent like a ‘sketch’ from [series creator] Michael Hirst’s perspective, of who the character would be. And then I had to come up with a way to speak and a way to move… my own interpretation of the role.”
Hirst, in turn, took a cue from what he saw Skarsgård doing, and married the two, creating a one-of-a-kind shipbuilder-slash-trickster. “Michael sees my work and then is inspired to write more in that direction,” Skarsgård notes. “It’s like a cross-breeding situation between the writer and the actor.”
Watch a sneak peek from Thursday’s finale, then read on for more:
Heading into the Season 2 finale (airing Thursday at 10/9c), Floki is perhaps as difficult to get a read on as ever. In recent weeks — and all as he tries to process impending fatherhood (see clip above) — there have been hints at a falling out between Floki and Kattegat’s Earl Ragnar (played by Travis Fimmel). The seemingly fractured friendship comes at a dire time, as Ragnar deftly chooses allies and keeps a close eye on King Horik (Donal Logue), who just last week baited Floki with a “proposition.”
Surveying the gents’ bond up until now, Skarsgård says, “Ragnar’s always been crucial to Floki, because he believed in him and came to him to build his boats [in the series pilot]. Ragnar is, like, this popular guy and Floki’s the weirdo, the one friend that Floki had.” Floki’s initial allegiance, meanwhile, was born of a certain sort of reverence. “Floki believes in Ragnar in a divine way — not that he would be a god, but that he was fated to do great things,” Skarsgård offers.
So what, then, is the root of the professed estrangement between Floki and his Earl? And will the former take Horik up on his offer and keep Ragnar from doing any more “great things?” Skarsgård gently rebuffs the inquiry, saying it’d be “very hard” to discuss Floki’s mindset without revealing too much. But this much can be revealed from a screening of the episode: To demonstrate his loyalty to Horik, someone “significant” will die at Floki’s hand.
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Teasing the finale as a whole, Skarsgård is a bit more forthcoming. “Let’s just say that s–t’s about go down,” he promises. And towards the hour’s end, “There will be a consecutive five minutes of viewers dropping their jaws, definitely.”